What They Say:
True Love Isn’t An Illusion… But It Might Be A Delusion!
Thousands of Japanese students have “chunibyo,” a state where they’ve convinced themselves that they have secret knowledge and hidden powers. Yuta Togashi knows that all too well, as he spends his middle school years living in a complete fantasy world. With work and effort, he’s overcome his delusions, and he’s ready to go to high school as a normal kid. Unfortunately, the girl who lives above him is deep into her own case of chuni, and she’s decided that he’s her soul mate! Can Yuta survive a girl who may be literally mad about him? And what happens when Yuta’s FORMER “one true soulmate” returns? Maybe the best thing that could happen is for Yuta to re-embrace his own chunibyo as things get seriously wild and crazy in LOVE, CHUNIBYO & OTHER DELUSIONS! and LOVE, CHUNIBYO & OTHER DELUSIONS! –HEART THROB-!
The complete collection for Chunibyo comes in a Blu ray case slightly thicker than your standard case in order to comfortably house all four discs. The discs are color-coordinated, with the first two covering the first season and sporting a blue outline with pictures of the cast, while the third and fourth discs cover the second season and have a pink outline alongside pictures of the cast. The case has a tray on both inner sides, as well as a third tray that stores two more discs, front and back. This third tray overlaps one of the side trays ever so slightly, making removal of that disc slightly difficult if you aren’t paying attention, but is otherwise a serviceable package.
Each disc menu’s image corresponds with that particular disc’s cover art, with the Blu Ray menu scrunched to the corner of the screen. While menu navigation is as clear as any other, it does both me that the menu options not making use of the entire screen space is becoming a habit for all Blu Rays. It should also be noted that while season one’s special feature shorts are all threaded together as one continuous episode (with menu selections for each short essentially acting like chapter selections for that episode), season two’s shorts are handled separately, with the end of each short sending you back to the menu screen—a bit annoying considering the shorts are around 4 minutes each.
Special features outside of creditless opening and closing animations are always a treat, and this set definitely delivers in that regard. Both seasons of Chunibyo each come with an OVA rounding out the season, as well as 6 individual shorts for a total of 2 bonus episodes, and 12 shorts that run about the length of 2 more episodes. The OVAs themselves serve as nice ways to finish out each season—season 1’s Christmas episode adding more Dekomori and Nibutani nonsense, and season 2’s OVA picking apart Yuta’s obsession with dirty magazines, which was played more for laughs in the series proper. The shorts are equally silly and run for just the right length considering their subject matter, though are only available subbed.
As enjoyable as anime comedies are, there tends to be a layer of impermeability to each of them not just in terms of its medium, but to its specific brand of humor. Most of the more notable anime comedies out there are all so distinctly Japanese in how they approach their humor which, while isn’t a bad thing by any means, does make them difficult to recommend when the humor literally doesn’t translate over to an English-speaking audience.
I’m not gonna lie and say Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions! is as American-friendly is a warm slice of apple pie (I mean, the Japanese term “chunibyo” remains untranslated in its title and dub), but it does get decently close. At its core, the series revolves around the misadventures of a group of mismatched friends as they use exactly what’s so weird about them to get through life’s daily trials and tribulations. It’s a tried and true formula that isn’t exclusive to any one culture, but the way the series handles its group dynamic is very akin to something you’d expect out of a sitcom.
We’re introduced to Yuta Togashi, who has made a point to enter a high school where none of his former classmates have enrolled, all to ensure that nobody knows of his cringe-inducing eccentricities, just a few years prior. As a middle-schooler, Yuta would go around dressed in dark robes, chanting spells, and meditating under a teepee of fluorescent lights—all the signs of someone with chunibyo. Yuta himself is so eager to join the ranks of normie-dom, that it’s that much funnier when a classmate still at the peak of her own chunibyo begins clinging to him. Enter Rikka Takanashi: a self-proclaimed wielder of the Eye of the Wicked Lord, and master of all things occult (or at least things painted black with frills for added effect).
The two act as the perfect odd couple, and the misadventures they go on continually reflect this. While Yuta is so over anything involving an overactive imagination, Rikka is willing to dive head-first into it, no questions asked. In the case of the first season, this involves creating a club in an attempt to validate Rikka’s own oddball way of thinking. While this does result in the anime dipping into the whole “quirky school club that does nothing but goof off” archetype, it does provide a substantial enough premise to introduce the rest of the anime’s cast. Besides the outlier of Kumin, the rest of the “Far East Magical Napping Society Summer Thereof” consists of present and recovering chunibyo students, all of whose clashing mindsets form an excellent group dynamic that only better solidifies itself throughout the anime’s run.
Joining Rikka and Yuta are the sleep-obsessed Kumin, Rikka’s “underling” Dekomori, and Yuta’s fellow-former-chunibyo-comrade in Nibutani. Rather than the latter two acting as a copy/paste of Rikka and Yuta, they act as confidants to them; a separate person that can validate the other’s actions simply by having been there before. Dekomori and Nibutani are especially interesting in this sense because they don’t just act as a sounding board to the other characters, but have enough sway in the conversation that we actually care about their input. Scenes with Nibutani talking to Yuta over whether or not a relationship can be formed when your love interest is knee-deep in chunibyo, or Dekomori just bawling her eyes out as Nibutani rewards her by dressing as her chunibyo alter-ego of “Mori Summer” prove that these characters sincerely enjoy spending time and talking with each other—a very human trait that most shows tend to only have a surface-level understanding of.
It’s in this manner that the show is able to pick apart what makes a chunibyo, and rather than running from it, is able to embrace and fully justify its existence to both those who have never undergone it themselves, and those who have chosen to disown it entirely. Rikka’s socially awkward tendencies result in her being unable to effectively convey her emotions, which is only further worsened when she realizes that she’s in love with Yuta. Throughout both seasons, we see the push and pull of the cringe-y vs. normie dynamics at hand. Both sides are valid, and it’s only when one can be true to oneself that the inner conflict is brought to rest.
What’s truly impressive is that the anime is able to build up on this sentiment for the second season. Whereas the first season works mainly within the confines of the club to push the characters into action, season two is more episodic in nature, to the benefit of its cast. Characters like Kumin who had little influence in the first season get their moment to shine, not just for the sake of being fair, but to really see how hanging out with the show’s fellow misfits have changed her for the better. Episodes like Nibutani protecting Dekomori after essentially getting catfished similarly cover the kind of story and dynamics that couldn’t have been told in the first season. And where the first season picked apart the difficulties of admitting one’s feelings, the second season picks apart the difficulties of rejecting them with newcomer Satone Shichimiya. Instead of immediately acting as the love-triangle-instigator, we’re introduced to Shichimiya as another fellow chunibyo, and we get to explore firsthand her blossoming feelings for Yuta and how she ultimately must reject them and in turn how the others respond to this—again something that couldn’t have been explored in the first season alone.
In terms of the dub, I will say that everyone except Yuta and Rikka’s VAs do a serviceable job, which can be distracting since they’re the main characters in all this. Hearing Dekomori and Nibutani’s snippy back-and-forths in English further prove that the characters are scene-stealers no matter their language, though that could be because their archetypes of childish brat and popular girl gave the VAs something easy to grasp onto in comparison to the rest of the cast’s more inherently nuanced characters. Margaret McDonald as Rikka does seem to ease into a cutesier state for her deliveries come season two, but Leraldo Anzaldua’s take on Yuta is boring and uninspired throughout. Regardless, the series as a whole is enjoyable in either language, and is something I’d definitely recommend for anyone in need of a thoughtful, yet lighthearted comedy.
Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions! is honestly the closest anime I’ve seen to take on such an American sitcom archetype—and that’s to its advantage. Its cast of goofballs and weirdos are all such varying yet distinct levels of chunibyo, and yet they all get along together in a strangely dysfunctional sort of way that comes off as sincere and endearing. While the overall plot of both seasons revolves around Rikka and Yuta’s romance, seeing each episode boil down to the gang finding peace with the actions of their cringe-inducing younger selves, or at least using that experience to their advantage is oddly uplifting. And with this release not only including both seasons, but also their according bonus episodes and shorts, this is definitely the best release for the series state-side.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Chuni-Shorts, Chunibyo Lite shorts, Japanese Promos, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animations
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 7th, 2017
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Samsung UHD 6700 64” Curved Smart TV, Sony Blu-ray player BDP-S6500 via HDMI set to 1080p